50

Well, the terrible day has arrived. I’m 50! (Yes, I’m totes joking)

As I’m fond of saying, I’ve reached ancient in gay-years. I’m an elder now. It is time for to don my robe, take up my staff, and take a seat on the #alphabetmafia council. (If you are on TikTok, you know where that phrase came from. I love it!) I mean those free toasters aren’t always enough to swell our ranks, am I right? Apparently, I’m supposed to have lost interest in a whole host of activities I’m still participating in.1 day. I’m hoping the Biden/Harris inauguration goes off without too much drama.

I joke but I know a lot of gay men struggle with aging. Our community isn’t always the kindest to older gays. I’ve never minded my age or aging. And considering for a few reasons, I never thought I’d even reach 50, I’m perfectly fine with it. Sure, there are times I might feel the sting of being less attractive or less appealing as years past, but those things are superficial. I try to take it in stride. My life was a tragic rollercoaster ride before I made it to 25, so 50 has been an easy target.

I can actually remember one time when I was still new to blogging wondering what I would be doing if I made it to 50. In my mind it was a far off place full of disbelief and what-ifs. lolol  Well, here I am. I like to think I’m a better man than I was back then. I certainly struggled along the way. I am a little proud that I am still blogging, albeit nowhere near as often. I took to blogging like it was made for me back then. This blog has been a priceless tool in my journey of self-discovery. I credit so much of my emotional growth to this medium.

As I hit the half centennial mark, I do realize the scope of my age and the breadth of changes in me, my life, and the world around me. I mean, I am old enough to remember Pong after all. There was not internet when I was a kid. There was no cell/smart phones, WIFI, Bluetooth, or social media. Hell, even 911 didn’t exist until I was in high school. Cars didn’t have seatbelts, gasoline was less than a dollar per gallon, TV’s had less than 10 channels with no remote control. Cassette tapes were the size of a small tablet and restaurants still had “smoking or non” in one room. The world has jumped far ahead in technology. Sadly, I’ve witnessed many of the very tools meant to unite us only serve to divide us further.

I’m not feeble just yet but I can’t push myself like I used to when I was a wee lad. That would probably be my only regret at this point. I’m still pretty fit, covid-19 times considered, but the body isn’t as resilient. I’m eagerly headed back to the gym (outdoors) this coming weekend. I had several minor injuries in 2019 that plagued me throughout the whole year. It made me realize I’m not as spry and flexible as I used to be. That said, I look forward to more years in the gym.

I have never been huge on birthdays so not much is planned. I have to work for one. With the covid-19 restrictions still very much in effect, I’ll probably end up doing what I usually do. Sit my wide ass on the couch, cuddle with Daisy2, and play video games. I know I know, I’m not supposed to like video games at my age. Pissh! Tosh! I do what makes brings me joy, naysayers notwithstanding.

I look forward to my years ahead, however many that might be. And as always, hope springs eternal…

 

  1. Maybe now that I am on the council of elders, I’ll be able to get my memos more regularly.) )

    To be honest, I don’t feel 50. Well, parts of me feel 50 but overall, I don’t feel it. My face might look it, but I don’t feel it. And 50 appears to be the new 40 in many of my circles so I guess I don’t have to go into seclusion just yet. Of course, today is also inauguration ((corrected – thanks Kevin! []

  2. and Toby []

Playing It Straight

I was chatting with a FB friend the other day who came out late in his life. He asked me if I had ever thought of going thru life pretending to be straight. He was shocked when I shared the idea had never even occurred to me.

If you’ve been here long enough1, you’ll remember I “left’ home at a very early age. I was also sexually active very early. That said, at the time I still wasn’t actually sure I was gay. When I told my dad on that fateful day, I remember just telling him I liked having sex with guys, not that I was gay. It might seem like I was dense but I had no idea what it was to be gay. All I knew were the stereotypes thrown around every day.  My understanding of “being gay” meant I had to be super effeminate , wear dresses, or want to have sex with animals or kids. And while I turned myself into a stereotype many years later, at that time none of those things applied to me. It wasn’t like I could talk or ask anyone about it. There were no cell-phones, internet, or social media back then. My small town didn’t have ‘dirty magazines’, much less gay ones. We lived so remote we didn’t even have a landline phone.  For a few years I thought I was a straight guy that just liked sucking cock on the side. I kid you not, I thought that way.

Fast forward to my early 20’s, I survived my stepmother’s torment, being thrown out on the street, M’s death, and a near suicide. These things changed me so deeply I can understand why it never occurred to me. The evolution of my understanding and acceptance of myself negated the very idea of pretending. It just wasn’t an option. I could theorize over it but that seems pointless.

My friend was flabbergasted by my story. He just assumed we all hid it when we were kids. Funny how we go thru the world projecting our assumptions. I was a bit shocked he thought all the guys in our age group hid it until we were older.  He was married to a woman. No kids, but not from the lack of ‘trying’ as he put it. He also shared with me he felt ashamed to bottom until he was almost 50. I can’t say that surprised me. Too many fellow homos carry this nonsense around in varying degrees to this day. He also shared with me the torment he lived with knowing he was living a lie. He both loved and resented his wife because of his secret. He was careful to avoid anything “too gay”, lest he be discovered.

It was a very interesting perspective to me because it was so foreign to my own story. It was a really good conversation. Anyone having to hide who they are doesn’t have it easy, regardless of the circumstances. My struggle was and is but one of many.

At this moment in my life, most of my coming out is a dull memory vs the sharp stabbing pain it used to be. And while I have wondered at times what my life would have been like had I not come out when I did, it is not from a sense of wishing it so.

  1. oh you single digits few []

Taught

It is about this time of year you start seeing people lamenting how terrible the year has been and how “they are ready for the new year.” Somehow the new year will be better. I’m usually not in this camp, but clearly that has changed this year.

I think we can all safely say 2020 has been absolute dumpster fire! It started out ok but just ran right down the shitter as things progressed. It certainly has been educational for me. I only wish I could say in a good way. My enduring faith in humanity has definitely been challenged this year.

We’ve got these insidious behind the scenes machinations trying to destroy our way of life. The greedy and power hungry are pulling the strings of our ‘leaders’ while the general populace languishes in poverty. Said population is often so focused on survival they can’t see they are being used as pawns. And seeing some of the most needy in our society support the very same people hurting them is painful to witness. More so, it is a disturbing example of history repeating itself. Rome is definitely burning, folks. To polish off the trifecta, we have the indifferent. These are the people who are well off enough to be completely immersed in the their own little bubble of existence. Occasionally, tidbits of information pierces said bubble but there is no filter to determine it’s accuracy or relevance. At some point a “working knowledge” arises from which all their decisions are based for good or bad. These are usually where you find the Karens of the world. Pity the soul that incurs their wrath by causing them any level of inconvenience.

I am not even sure what my frame of mind would be right now had I not been able to get back in the gym. I had gotten to a point about 5 months in where I wasn’t doing well. I’m sure I looked fine on the outside, but I wasn’t. But, as Elle Woods would say, “exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy, happy people don’t shoot their husbands.”  And I’m referring to the endorphins, not my husband. lol  Being back in the gym has really helped lift my spirits and pulled me out of being depressed.

Even as I sit here writing this I am struck by my own privilege. I am fortunate to have the opportunity and comfort to sit here whining about this shitty year. I know that and for so many it has been that much harder. I wish I could say that doesn’t necessarily make the impact of this year any less painful. So yeah, I can’t wait for it to be over. I’m hoping the new year is better. I mean, hell. It can’t get much worse, right?1

Hope does springs eternal…

  1. Don’t answer that []

Recovery

Building on my last post, I wanted to share more about the small but welcome improvements in the SF area. California adopted the 4-tier system of restrictions relating to the pandemic. If your state doesn’t have it, it’s pretty simple. Each tier has it’s own level of restrictions, what can/can’t open, etc. We have purple, red, orange, & yellow; purple being the most severe and yellow being the least. It makes it easier for counties and cities to better manage local health orders and restrictions.

Of course, SF being a very dense environment, even when we move into a higher tier we tend to have some lingering tougher restrictions. While unfortunate, it is necessary to avoid a resurgence of cases. And seeing surges in pretty much the entire middle of the US, we are grateful for the slow but steady improvements. SF has officially moved into the orange tier and our ‘rt’ ratio is hovering just below 1.1  Hopefully, we can stay in the orange and yellow tiers.  *crossed fingers*

Indoor bars, theaters, and larger social establishments are still closed. (I don’t understand why theaters can’t open if gyms can, but I don’t make the rules.) Restaurants have been able to serve outdoor seating for awhile now. Some bars have paired up with restaurants to gain an allowance to open outdoors as well. Now that SF is in the orange tier, restaurants and retail shops can open indoor facilities in a limited capacity. For myself, I still avoid eating indoors. I am just not that confident in others. We tend to order for home more than going out to eat, but I try to adhere to my weekend rituals as much as I can.

Shawn and I have slowly been allowing ourselves to do more outside the apt. Meanwhile, I see people planning trips and going to far off places and I just shake my damn head. If this pandemic has taught me anything, it is that a lot of people don’t really give two-shits about others as long as they aren’t inconvenienced. But, I digress… I have restrictions that also affect my ability to work so even if I was more comfortable, I would still not be traveling.

I’ve been seeing and helping an elderly retired coworker since the beginning of the pandemic and every time I see him, I make sure to test negative for covid-19 beforehand. Before we could get tests, I would leave disinfected items outside his doorway or stairs. He is in a high risk category due to his age and I would never forgive myself if I inadvertently passed it on to him.2 Anyway, I’m getting upset thinking about it, let me move on.

Beyond the assistance to my dear friend above, we are just now reaching a point where we feel comfortable meeting people outdoors for meals or conversation. I say we, but it is more me. lol Shawn is still content to avoid people for the most part. He will probably be reticent until there is a viable vaccine. Even when to go to the gym, we usually go to a sparsely populated location with sign-ups well below the allowable limit.3 It has been good for him to get out of the apt more though. He was getting really depressed as well. I think the gym and the sporadic trips outside of the apt has helped him as much as it has me.

Of course, we miss traveling. We miss weekend jaunts to bars, beer busts, movies, etc. We miss visiting distant friends and places. We miss a lot of things. It sucks monkey balls, but we know by isolating we are helping to prevent the spread of covid-19. We are both hopeful a safe vaccine will be available sometime early next year. For myself, I doubt I’ll ever take for granted again the openness of our life. The simple freedom to hug friends, to kiss or touch others, to be close to people. I think the intimacy of strangers (if such a thing exists) is what I miss the most. The relaxed restrictions gives me hope we are on the right path. Until then, I hope you are safe and well.

  1. rt is the likelihood of retransmission from an infected person. Anything above 1 is considered not good. []
  2. or anyone for that matter. []
  3. You can see online how many slots are available and taken by the hour. []

Herd

So today, the official response from the Whitehouse (WH) is they now endorse herd immunity as a regimen to combat the spread of covid-19.

First, here is the definition of “herd immunity”:

the resistance to the spread of a contagious disease within a population that results if a sufficiently high proportion of individuals are immune to the disease, especially through vaccination.

“the level of vaccination needed to achieve herd immunity varies by disease but ranges from 83 to 94 percent”

Webster’s dictionary

Based on that, herd immunity is currently impossible. We cannot use herd immunity as a treatment regimen because we don’t have a vaccine!

The WH’s deliberate misinterpretation of the idea is to do nothing. Just let everyone be exposed and see who lives and dies. That is NOT herd immunity. This approach pushes the death toll into the millions, not the low hundreds of thousands like we have now. Just one percent of the US population, just one (1) percent, is over three (3) million people!  If we jump that up to five (5) percent, the death toll is just under 17 million people.

For perspective, one percent is more than the entire population of Phoenix, AZ. Five percent is more than the entire population of the New York City metro area. And this does not take into account the millions more who will struggle with lingering illness for weeks or months.

Even if you’re dumb and deaf, you can understand how insanely stupid and dangerous this is.

Voting has never been more important. It is heartening to see many cities are reporting record numbers of registered voters as well as early voting. Vote like your life depends on it because it just might this time.

Deaths

I’ve had not 1, but two significant deaths lately. My good friend Rick passed away. He lived in Hawaii with his husband Jeremy. It was unexpected and a total shock. I don’t need to go into the details, but I’m sad to have lost my friend. It was not covid-19 related, btw. Rick and I met years ago when he was still living here in SF. We met at the gym and he was kind and friendly, even if he looked intimidating as a big ole bodybuilder. I was at what I refer to as the “end-stages” of some of my emotional growth. I had overcome a lot of my demons and was finding my confidence. Out of the blue, Rick came into my life and was just a good genuine friend. We briefly flirted with dating, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Our friendship survived his move back to Hawaii, and Shawn and I have visited him there more than once. He was one of our destinations as soon as we felt comfortable traveling again.

Rick was a war vet and suffered from PTSD. With the current state of political affairs, he was often upset and unhappy with where our country is heading. Not only that, he was denied his rightful military benefits for years due to the old DADT law. He did finally get them, but I know it bothered him he had to fight for so long to get them. I hope he is in peace now, free of the torments of this life and worries for the future. He will certainly be missed! Rick, we love and miss you.

*

Trailing right behind that, I found out the very next day, my old blog buddy ‘ThisboyElroy’ passed away as well.1 It was the day before his 40th birthday. This one also really shook me as I just never thought of someone so full of life could go so soon. I met Adam back after he started his blog, when he and his ex were still together. We actually met at one of the blogger shindigs that were so popular back when blogging was still new. He, Brad, and I hit it off right away! We randomly hung out together over the span of years. And after Adam and Brad split, we sort of became distant but not from any tension. We were just on different paths and didn’t often interact as much. I never got to meet Adam’s new husband. I didn’t want to bother or intrude on his grieving, so I’ll try to reach out to him after some time has passed. Adam was a positive force in this world. He was smart, not afraid of confrontation, and singularly focused on the goals he wanted for himself. His infectious smile and sharp wit will be sorely missed.

*

When I was younger, I often commented I didn’t expect to live into old age. For a variety of messed-up reasons, I never thought I’d live to see 40. Here I am pushing 50 and I am grateful for my life. It was wrong of me to be so callous about it. Life is too fragile and finite to be so careless about it. I should be so fortunate to be remembered as fondly as I remember Adam and Rick.

Be at peace my dear friends.

 

  1. They actually died on the same day []

Sore

OMFG! I’m dying! Ok, not really, I’m just sore as hell.

The gyms here were finally allowed to open in a limited capacity.  (Last week, but I waited a few days to jump back in.)) Luckily, one location has an outdoor area setup. They basically took over one of their fenced-in parking lots and put a tent over it. I digress, back to the dying. Lawd, I am sore. Like, “ouch, I can barely bend my arm” sore.

I swear I didn’t over-do it. I did biceps the first day back because I figured1 everyone else would be doing chest. It has been over 5 months since I sat foot in the gym. If we flashback you will remember I was very happy with myself after surviving a lack of carbs in my diet.2  I was reaching a nice definition phase on the old physique. Of course, BAM! Pandemic hit. Now me and my pudgy squishy belly need to get back into it. So I start super light on the weight. Literally, I was doing less than half my normal curl weight. The next day and the day after I could bare bend my damn forearms! I was almost worried I had somehow torn them without realizing it.3  It was excruciating. I know, “poor me” with my first world problems. I’m not unawares. Anyway, I followed up with chest and then legs over my 3-day weekend. I went even lower on chest and legs as a result of my ‘arms on fire’ routine. Right on queue, they are extra sore too. They weren’t as bad as the forearms, so maybe it was good I got freaked out a little. Today, I am still sore all over, but the forearms are a dull ache now, thankfully.

It sucks getting old. I’ll be the big 5-0 this next year so I know my body isn’t as spry as it used to be, but come on! Good Lawd! lol  I can’t tell you how happy I am to be back in the gym. It might seem trivial, but it is more than just a vain desire to look good. Working out as long as I have, it is big part of my daily life. I go thru phases where I sort of rebel but those are days and weeks, not months! If I ever bitch about dragging my ass to the gym again, point me back to this post. I honestly did not expect to miss it so much. It weighed on me (pun intended) and brought down my mood. Beyond the vanity and health benefits, I don’t think I properly valued how much it affects my mental well-being. Speaking of well-being, I have a sad news post but I’m saving it for later.

And if you fuckers ruin this for me, there will be hell to pay! I will summon the mega of all Mega-Karens to track each and every one of you down and staple that damn mask to your face! /sarcasm. Seriously though, after Labor day I’m worried a new jump in cases is coming. We were doing so well here in the bay area in the beginning. Then we got complacent and ruined it. We are finally back to a point where we can take more risks and get out there a bit more. I don’t care what your feelings are on the subject of masks, but if you want our favorite places to open, wear your mask and maintain distance! Do it for the gym! lol

I was a wee bit nervous, even with knowing it was outdoors. Fitness SF came thru though. While sparse, the setup was spacious and well regulated. You are given a bottle of disinfectant with your towel. There are signs everywhere reminding folks to clean the equipment before and after use. You get an hour sign up and they boot everyone out at the end of each hour. Indoor areas are allowed to open this week with limited capacity, but I’m not there yet. While the daily new cases are dropping, I’m just not trusting the indoor setup. Thankfully, the gym plans to keep outdoor area going for at least another couple months!

*stretching arms* Ouch! It hurts! heeheee

  1. rightly so after arriving []
  2. The struggle was real! []
  3. For some reason, I am always sorest the 2nd day after a workout. []

Shut Down

I’ve pretty much given up on the idea of our country getting the pandemic under control. I predict we will continue to live with hodgepodge restrictions and shut downs thru the election in November. Only after 45 loses will we see a national strategy with a lockdown that will be consistent and effective. The mismatch state by state approach has obviously failed. There is no enforcement of any real value so people are free to disregard the directives.1 Shaming and viral exposure can only do so much.

The economy will continue to tank and businesses will shutter on a scale not seen since the Great Depression. Economists are already sounding the alarm. We blew it. Our selfish entitled attitudes created this mess. The ignorant minority continues to overshadow all the efforts of the responsible majority. We’ve allowed them thru mismanagement to take over the face of the pandemic. Maybe now that the Mango maniac has finally started wearing a mask, his cult followers will follow suit. We can only hope at this point.

All other countries with active restrictions and enforcement are seeing lower and lower cases. Many have already opened almost completely up, albeit with some mask requirements and restrictions on large events. They listened to their experts and acted accordingly.

I know I sound like Debbie Downer, but I’m trying to take a realistic approach based on what I see every day. The virus is spreading at a rampant rate again. Even California2 is seeing a big jump in cases and hospitalizations. And while the death total isn’t necessarily skyrocketing, people seem to forget, even those who don’t end up hospitalized can suffer for months after clearing the illness.

As of the news today, 1 in 5 Californians are unemployed. Many moratoriums on evictions (residential and commercial) are set to expire in the coming month. I expect California’s will mostly likely be extended, but the problem is still their looming over their heads. And it seems another round of stimulus checks might be coming, but they are drops in a bucket at this point.

I’m grateful for the fortunate circumstances I find myself in thru this; however, I worry for so many who are struggling between doing the right thing and being able to work and put food on their tables and a roof other their heads. The hubby is going stir-crazy being unemployed and home all the time; however, he is trying to hang in there. We get out on walks together on weekends to help break up the monotony.

If you’re struggling while you wait for “normal” to return, I’d put that aside. Normal is gone for 2020. Hunker down and adjust to our new reality for the next few months. I hope I’m wrong, but I’d be shocked if we have any meaningful developments before September. Hopefully, by year end the several possible vaccines will hold out to be effective enough to mass produce. A best case scenario is seeing a sense of normalcy returning before March 2021.

  1. And I’m not talking about people desperate to work or businesses fighting to exist. []
  2. granted mostly in Southern California []

Privilege

I had an incident this weekend that really nailed the idea of “privilege” in my mind. I’m at the local bagel shop in the ‘hood. I’m standing just inside the entrance to maintain social distance to the person inside.1 A woman comes behind and parks herself less than a foot from me. I promptly turn and glare at her. Seeing that didn’t work, I moved forward. Luckily the person in front of me had moved to the side as he had finished placing his order.

At this point I’m kind of over it. I’m reading the news on my phone. I glance up ever so often to see if my food is ready and to ensure I do not need to move again to maintain my distance. The previously mentioned woman is now glaring at me and I can tell she is mumbling under her breath. I’m thinking to myself, “get over it lady, maintain your distance and no one will glare at you.” Her order came up first, even though she ordered after me, as she only ordered something quick. As she’s leaving, I look up to see her glaring at me again and mumbling. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until she was out the door that I put her words to meaning. She had said to me, “black lives matter too MF’er!

Of course, I’m immediately upset. I mean the nerve! How dare she make it about race. I don’t give two-shits what color you are, maintain yo’ distance! Then it dawns on me. She mistook my glare and stepping away from her to mean I was avoiding her because of her skin color. I was floored! How could I have done this? But, as I go over the scenario in my mind, I honestly wouldn’t have done anything different. I’d glare at your dumb-ass for not maintaining distance regardless.

At this point, my anger dissipates and I feel only compassion and sadness. How terrible the world she walks in must be that this was her first assumption? I frequently say, “I walk in an extraordinarily different world than people of color.” This was a prime example of that. My heart sank knowing how much anger, hurt, and resentment she must be felling. And while I can take some comfort in knowing my own actions were honorable, it still left me profoundly sad.

I benefit and often take many things for granted simply because I am white. It really struck me how privileged I am. People often mistake being called “privileged” for being wealthy or having life easy. That is not the meaning here. Lawd knows, my life before the age of 25 was an utter shit-show. I wen thru more drama and tragedy in those years than most people go thru in a life time. In spite of all that, I can see and understand I still benefit daily from being white.

My only regret is not being able to clarify why I was glaring at her.2 If I could, I’d give her a hug as well. It was too late and I wasn’t about to try and chase her down after the fact. I can only take solace in the knowledge my actions were not racially motivated.

I strive to be better and to help others be better. I encourage you to do the same. A lot of people are hurting right now. Should you encounter a similar scenario as a white person, I implore you to see the bigger picture and recognize, it isn’t necessarily you the person is acting out against.

Hope springs eternal….

  1. It is a small space. []
  2. The humor in that is not lost on me. []

Remembering

It was January 1991. The first year I witnessed the death of someone I personally knew from AIDS. It scared the holy sh*t out of me. I remember hearing an older couple I was friends with commenting on this article from the NYT. The report of 100,000 deaths from AIDS was buried deep in the paper. There was no national outrage, there weren’t any names posted on the front page. We were on our own.

Fast forward to this week’s front page article with a thousand names of the 100,000 dead from the pandemic.

The LGBTI community remembers. We know what it’s like when the government ignores a disease. We remember what it was like to see so many our people die from AIDS, many of which died alone.

Don’t be cavalier or indifferent to this crisis. Don’t be a name on the front page or one buried on page 18.